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Home Office teaches dictator's police to spot fake documents

THE Home Office has been teaching Omani police officers how to detect forged documents, despite concern that the techniques could be used against opposition activists in the Gulf dictatorship.

A two-week training course ended yesterday. British diplomats claimed that it would support “Oman's efforts to facilitate the legitimate movement of people and goods, and prevent those that could cause harm.”

It follows similar co-operation last month, when Omani police and customs officials visited Dover to learn about border control tactics.

Critics are concerned that these skills will be used by Oman’s absolute ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said to track down opponents.

The despot has spent nearly half a century on the throne since he was installed by British troops in 1970.

Arab Spring activist Khalfan al-Badwawi told the Morning Star from exile in London that the anti-forgery exercise was “bizarre and disconnected from reality.”

He said: “Oman is a brutal tyranny, so it’s clear who the British are supporting here.

“The question is: who have the British taught Oman’s police to regard as those that could cause harm? Is it opposition activists?”

Sultan Qaboos faced a left-wing uprising against his rule in the separatist-seeking Dhufar region of southern Oman until the late 1980s and he continues to stifle peaceful dissent throughout the country.

Said Jidad, an exiled Dhufari activist who claims he was tortured by Oman’s security forces, told the Star: “The British role in sponsoring the Omani regime for decades has placed a heavy burden on Omanis in general and Dhufaris in particular.

“The British intervention in suppressing the Dhufar revolution led to the failure of Dhufari demands for justice and equality.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the cost of the police training was still being calculated.

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